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Friday, June 6, 2008

Five standard topics for a personal essay by Mary Catherine Savage FROM Johns Hopkins University

Though written for those in the health fields, these suggestions are also useful for others. I would be very cautious about #5. You might come off sounding pretentious explaining your personal philosophy, especially if you are 20 years old.
1) your motivation for a career as a physician,
2) the influence of your family/early experiences on your life,
3) the influence of extracurricular work/volunteer activities on your life,
4) your long-term goals, and
5) your personal philosophy.

It is also suggested that irregularities in your academic record may need to be explained in this section (Do not utilize the whole section for this purpose, however, and do not make excuses--just explain). In considering which topic best fits you, think about where you have something meaningful to say.

It is not realistic to think that you can comment on each area. In attempting to do so, you will
probably leave the reader with nothing to remember about you. Your goal in selecting the best topic for you, and in writing about it is to create an impression that you will be an interesting applicant to interview. When you have identified an area, think about anecdotal information or stories that support what you are stating. These stories will personalize your essay, and leave the reader with something specific to remember about you.

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